Thursday, November 8, 2018

Stubby Teeth: a new short story

My story Stubby Teeth was just published in Barzakh Magazine. I'm honored to be in its pages.

So the story is a response to something my

professor Josh Henkin told our class when I was a cocky first-semester grad student at Brooklyn College. He said (and I'm paraphrasing, and he said it better) that it's impossible to write a story from the point of view of an inanimate object, a pet, or a small child, because stories are based on characters being able to act on their own, and a good story is all about your characters taking agency.

Well, I was young and eager and full of chutzpah. I was also a young father, underslept and full of conviction that not only did babies have agency, they were running my whole damn life. I went home and, right away, started writing this story.

I hope you like it.



Stubby Teeth

His mother was gone, and she had never been gone before. And now he was in a very big room with a very big woman who was not his mother, and several toys, and a smattering of other kids, and no mother. The walls were white. There were no windows, and no mother. He screamed.

The scream lasted several minutes, until he had run completely out of breath. He rubbed his stubby teeth together while he gathered the oxygen for more.

A pair of woman’s hands—long fingers, chubby knuckles—sandwiched him, his back and his stomach. They rubbed and rubbed, and though he tried to squirm out of their tractor-beam pull and fight the rhythmic alternation of palms and fingertips, those large hands with their pod-like palms, steady and insistent, and their confident beat lulled him into complacency. Just why was he agitated, again? He no longer remembered.

The woman spoke to him, slow and warm. Gradually, he realized that she wasn’t trying to communicate a specific meaning or directive, as his mother did when she spoke, but rather to give a sort of human background noise, like music during his mother’s yoga or television when he was supposed to not talk to her, a meaningless string of syllables as she guided him to an area of the room with one thick oceanic carpet, on top of which sat a gaggle, a small herd, of other humans, small humans.


(Barzakh's cover by Mali Fischer.)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Writing about Dead People

I was out to breakfast with my brother-in-law, who told me he really liked my latest Hevria piece. I thanked him, then immediately regretted it, because how do you thank someone for memories that aren't yours? This is how it goes.

The Friend I Never Called

BY   JUNE 19, 2018  ESSAY
I steal names. You should know this, first of all, if you want to be friends with me (or friends of friends, or one-night drinking buddies, or if you just wanna ask me about my weird hair). If you have a good name, or a strange name, or a musical name, I might swipe it and stick it in a story.
Alexandra Blitman didn’t just have a name that stuck in my head like a song, but she was a person who did. She was the first person I knew who played cello — before her, the only actual cellist I knew about was the Slovakian cellist in the James Bond movie The Living Daylightswhich my dad let me see with him when I was 9.
So I’m writing a story about a kid named Alex who’s a boy, and his best-friend-who-he-maybe-has-a-crush-on, also named Alix, who’s a girl, and I used real-life Alex’s name. Two strong trochees that might rhyme even though they mostly don’t. And Alex herself — she’s one of these people I always meant to keep up with and never did, and the few times I searched her nothing came up.
Then, last night, this did.
I tell stories for a living, and know that each is more than its headline. But Alexandra Blitman’s feels different:
I met her when we were kids, and we graduated from middle and high school together. We weren’t close, but we were friendly. Alex was friendly with everyone, though — a bright, free spirit whose genuine enthusiasm for life drew all of us to her, the straight arrows and the skaters and the jocks and everyone in between.
She died March 7, days after overdosing on heroin. She was 38.
Read the rest of my post here, or read the original article that inspired my piece.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

💪🤓 : Working Out, When You're a Nerd

I've been working out for a while now -- close to a year, maybe? -- which isn't so impressive in the greater scheme of things, or at least it isn't so impressive when you're a normal person, but considering I belong to the muscle-less minority and, for the first 30 or so years of my life, my greatest caloric expenditure was bobbing my head to They Might Be Giants songs, this is pretty notable. If I do say so myself.

Nerds Who Work Out

BY   JANUARY 16, 2018  ESSAY


I started working out because I am cheap. There a zillion amazing things about working for Google, including free lunch (yes they order in kosher stuff for me) (but from a steakhouse, and I’m a vegetarian, so I eat a lot of pasta), but because I am a contractor — yes, even though I’ve worked here for 2 years — I don’t get basic things like healthcare.
So I feel this need to take advantage of every little bit of free stuff that does come my way.
At least, that’s what I told myself when I started. I really wasn’t prepared for this.
I wasn’t ready for working out to run my life.

<<read the rest>>

Thursday, January 4, 2018

"Jackie, but Famous," and how you can read it right now

I'm really proud to have a new short story in Prime Number Magazine. Here's the beginning of it, and the rest is right after that little link on the bottom. It's kind of about the last real person still left in New York City.


Jackie, but Famous

Jackie had been running for the train, the 6:02 out of the city, convinced she was going to miss it, but also convinced that, with the correct combination of actions—magical gestures, glances at good luck omens like doves and not evil ones like pigeons, not stepping on any cracks in the pavement—she might still be able to make it. She wasn’t going to make it. The elevator took forever to come. The stoplights were against her. Traffic was still too heavy to safely run across. She walked fast, arms stiff, cutting through the air to her sides. She passed the length of one parked car, then another. The street was still too busy.

<< keep reading >>

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